The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Event
We wanted to remind you, and give you more information about this week’s “Ask the Smithsonian” Facebook Q&A and Archives Fair, held in honor of American Archives Month.
The Smithsonian’s second annual Archives Fair, will be held on Friday, October 14th from 10 am to 5 pm in Washington, DC, at the S. Dillon Ripley Center’s concourse located at 1100 Jefferson Drive SW on the National Mall.
The fair will feature informational displays, the opportunity to speak with staff from more than a dozen Smithsonian archives, and a lecture series about projects and research based on Smithsonian collections, including talks by the Archives’ own Sarah Stauderman, Sonoe Nakasone, Lynda Schmitz Fuhrig, and Jennifer Wright on emergency preparedness in archives, using field books as primary sources, and preserving the Smithsonian’s web presence, respectively. The fair will also feature the popular “Ask the Smithsonian” program. Participants can sign up for consultations with Smithsonian experts and receive preservation tips and other advice on how to care for items they have tucked away in the attics, closets and basements of their homes. Smithsonian staff will evaluate one easily transported archival items (or two related items) no larger than a shopping bag. Preregistration is required for the “Ask the Smithsonian” program, and appointments can be made online (tickets are limited, so register soon if you’re interested).
For those who will not be able to attend the Archives Fair, Smithsonian conservation and archives specialists will be available virtually on the Smithsonian Institution’s Facebook page Wednesday, October 12th from 10 am to 5 pm to answer questions the public may have about their own paper and electronic archival items.
More information on all of these events is available on the Smithsonian Archives Month website. We hope that you’ll be able to take advantage of these American Archives Month events at the Smithsonian!
We are so pleased to offer our time and expertise again this year at the “Ask the Smithsonian” event that will occur during the 2nd annual Smithsonian Archives Fair on Friday, October 14, 2011 from 10 am to 5 pm. Smithsonian Institution Archives experts, along with conservators, archivists, and librarians from across the Smithsonian, will offer timed slots for the public to consult with them on how to better care for their own archives-worthy items. This event is free and open to the public, but does require preregistration for the limited number of slots.
Last year, we had such an interesting turnout of people looking to find out more about objects in their personal collections. It seemed to me that people had mostly portraits, scrapbooks, or manuscript memorabilia left to them by elder generations, but I was only at one table and my colleagues reviewed many other items.
One scrapbook album I saw illustrated the brilliant career of a Latin American vaudevillian, and was brought in by his American granddaughter. Another woman brought portrait photographs recording two generations of her family’s military service—her grandfather-in-law's World War I military portrait in a fairly rare oversized photo button format. The other being her uncle’s portrait in uniform during his service in Puerto Rico in World War II, also adhered to rigid metal. Both of these had suffered dramatic tears, likely due to their expansion and contraction and the tensions built up against their rigid metal mounts in their transition from a more temperate environment to colder, drier DC in winter months.
Another pair of visitors brought in a beautifully assembled scrapbook from their family—a mother’s record of her daughter’s life from babyhood onward.
Another interesting object that our colleagues from the National Museum of American History encountered was a set of rare architectural renderings for sites in the Washington, DC region.
We look forward to seeing what you will bring in to the “Ask the Smithsonian” event next week, and as we did last year, we will have interactive displays to assist our visitors in implementing our practical advice, including examples of proper housing materials, how to choose and use these materials, and general advice for the care and preservation of collections.
Won’t you join us this year? For more information, and to register for the “Ask the Smithsonian Event” please see the Smithsonian Archives Month website or the registration below.
October is just around the corner, and that means that American Archives Month is quickly approaching. American Archives Month is a time to celebrate the importance of archives across the country, and the Smithsonian will be honoring the month with a variety of activities, including our second annual Smithsonian Archives Fair, which is free and open to the public, and will be held on Friday, October 14th from 10am to 5pm, in the S. Dillon Ripley Center’s concourse located at 1100 Jefferson Drive SW on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
The Archives Fair will highlight vast collections of archival and historical records at the Smithsonian. Staff from over a dozen different archival units, including the Smithsonian Institution Archives, will be on hand to showcase some of the Smithsonian’s archival treasures as well as current projects and programs. A lecture series (check out last year’s lecture series here) throughout the day will spotlight the infinite number of stories waiting to be told through the Smithsonian’s archives. All information about the event is on the Smithsonian Archives Month website.
Finally, we will reprise last year’s “Ask the Smithsonian” program in which fair attendees will be able to consult with Smithsonian experts including archivists, conservators, and librarians on how to better care for their own archives-worthy items. Note that the “Ask the Smithsonian” program is free, but requires preregistration—see the ticket registration form below.
So, save the date on your calendar, and share this information with your colleagues and friends. And stay tuned here for more updates on Archives Month activities across the Smithsonian.
Here at the Smithsonian we love to observe. So of course on August 23, 2011, at 1:51 PM, when a 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook the Washington, DC region and many of us with it, we immediately started to observe what happened and how we could document it. As the Institution's historians, inevitably we needed to know, had this happened before and what were the effects? After much research and investigation we found several reports of earthquakes in the DC region, with the mid to late 1800s being a very active time. Here are accounts of two powerful earthquakes.
On April 29, 1852, an earthquake sent moderate shockwaves through Washington, DC. With a probable epicenter in Virginia, the papers reported citizens feeling two distinct shocks around 1 pm. Though no noticeable damage occurred in the city, there was at least one report of a chimney coming down in Wytheville, Virginia. Interested in weather observations and natural phenomena, the Smithsonian's first Secretary Joseph Henry responded to the quake by writing up a list of questions to send out to volunteer observers in the shock zone. He collected observations and constructed a map of the shockwave's path from the responses that he received. Numerous observers came back with information like that of Lewis F. Steiner of Frederick, Maryland, who wrote about his friend's earthquake experience, Mr. F. regrets that he could not observe the attendant phenomena, with as much care as he desired in consequence of the great alarm of the ladies who were in the room with him. He compares the vertical movement, to that produced by riding rapidly over a suspension or common wooden bridge where the string pieces are long, and the piers distant from each other; and the horizontal, to that of a ship on the ocean. The sound accompanying the shock, he compares to that heard over a rail-road tunnel during the passage of a train of cars through it."
The most powerful earthquake of the era was the estimated 7.0 earthquake occurring on August 31, 1886. The destructive quake's epicenter was located in South Carolina and killed sixty people in Charleston, South Carolina. The quake also caused significant damages to buildings in Charleston, and its shocks reached up and down the east coast. Though no damage was reported in the Smithsonian's Buildings Reports, it was clearly felt by occupants of the Smithsonian Institution Building or Castle. In a Washington Post article from September 2, 1886, Lucien M. Turner, a member of the Army Signaling Corp, natural history collector for the Smithsonian's United States National Museum and a meteorological observer, recounted his earthquake experience while sitting in ornithologist Robert Ridgway's office on the 5th floor of the south tower:
At 9:53:31, I was sitting in the south tower of the Smithsonian building, with my chair tilted back and my heels resting on the table, certainly an excellent position to enable me to detect the least tremor. I recognized the cause, and looked at my watch. An old gas fixture, shaped like an inverted T suspended from the ceiling and not more than two feet from my head, served admirably as a seismometer. Its height from the floor is six feet six inches and sixty-six feet six inches from the surface of the ground. The disturbance was so great as to cause the fixture to swing five inches. The oscillations were indicated to move from west to east. The movements of the tremors were observed to last until 9:55 p.m. Several slight disturbances occurred until 10:04 pm when they ceased. At 10:08 pm a second series of tremors began. The first of these moved from north northwest to south southeast; the middle tremors had a peculiar circulatory motion, as though changing direction. The latter vibrations of this series were certainly from east to west, as indicated by the fixture. This lasted until 10:09 pm. A third series occurred at 10:30:10 pm, but were not so strongly characterized as the first, but were more severe than those occurring at 10:03 pm. The third series lasted until 10:31:15 pm.
Ever the observer, it is nice to know that Turner kept his calm to document the effects of the shockwaves. So it would seem that Smithsonian staff of yesteryear had a similar reaction to the employees today, shake, observe, and document... not that much has seemed to change after all.